Colorado Springs unemployment rate rises to eight-month high

By: Wayne Heilman •
November 30, 2017• Updated: November 30, 2017 at 4:35 pm   

photo – Job seeker Antonette Baca, left, talks with Taylor Moore at the Our House Bright Futures table Wednesday, April 12, 2017 at the Pikes Peak Workforce Center Job Fair at Hotel Elegante. Photo by Mark Reis, The Gazette
Job seeker Antonette Baca, left, talks with Taylor Moore at the Our House Bright Futures table Wednesday, April 12, 2017 at the Pikes Peak Workforce Center Job Fair at Hotel Elegante. Photo by Mark Reis, The Gazette

The unemployment rate for the Colorado Springs area rose in October to its highest level since February as payroll growth slowed to five-year low, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Thursday.

The 3.3 percent jobless rate in October was up from 2.9 percent in September and ends a seven-month trend of local unemployment rates below 3 percent. The area’s unemployment rate has increased in three of the past four months and four of the past six months since hitting the lowest recorded rate since 1970 – 2.5 percent. The 11,339 people looking for work is the most since October 2016, when the jobless rate was 3.6 percent.

Unlike previous months, when the unemployment rate climbed as local residents returned to the job market, October’s increase was more the product of employment declining by more than 900. The labor force increased in October but generated less than a third of the nearly 1,400 more people seeking work.

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“This is a little troubling along with the slowing job growth. It is another piece of information that shows the job market is slowing. It is not doom and gloom – we are still in a good, place well below the national rate. It raises the question of whether this a due to a lack of qualified labor,” said Tatiana Bailey, director of the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs Economic Forum.

The latest increase in the jobless rate came as payroll growth during the 12 months ended in October slowed to 1.1 percent, the lowest growth rate since September 2012. The payroll numbers have been revised upward for several years as part of an annual process in March, when data from unemployment insurance reports filed by most employers replace results from monthly surveys. More than 80 percent of the growth came from the health care and construction industries, while the business and professional services sector had the biggest employment decline.

Unemployment rates rose in October in every metropolitan area in Colorado as employment declined in every area except Greeley. Fort Collins had the state’s lowest jobless rate at 2.4 percent, while Pueblo had the highest at 4.4 percent. Colorado’s unemployment rate rose from 2.5 percent in September to 2.7 percent in October.

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